Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year in 2013

Taking some time off to be with the family during Christmas and New Years.  To all my regular readers, those that stop by once in a while, and to anyone coming to Healthcare Marketing Matters for the first time, thank you for reading and commenting.

May you find peace and joy on the holiday season. May you have a successful and prosperous 2013.

My regular musings regarding strategic marketing issues in healthcare will resume in January, 2013.

Michael Krivich is  an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of  the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate  actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on  facebook at the michael J group.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Is the time right for a patient experience focus in healthcare advertising?

Living in a large metropolitan area with some pretty well recognized system heavyweights and Academic Medical Centers, I am fortunate enough to see a good deal of hospital and health system advertising. Anyhow, happy smiling patients, doctors looking intently into a microscope, nice building exterior shots and high-tech equipment all promoting, something, but clearly not the brand. High production values and in most cases using hired talent instead of employees. The best one was a group of specialists standing and proudly discussing the quality of the air in the patient rooms. Really?

I have said it before and I am saying it again, where is the differentiation? And what does the statement: "We have surgical air quality in all the rooms", mean? Does it even matter to a potential patient. "Quick, take me to that academic medical center that has really clean air in the rooms!", said the patient. Really?

Food for thought

Healthcare is changing and marketing needs to change along with it. Especially on how we approach the market, differentiate our hospitals, communicate value and build brand. If we continue to portray ourselves as "gee whiz" look at us with all these high-tech tools and research and clean air, all the while telling the consumer its really all about you without offering up a strong brand promise and call-to-action, than what is the point of spending all that money?

The patient experience will differentiate you.

If you focused the ad concept, copy and visuals on the patient experience and how it all fits together for the patients benefit, then you are differentiating. It is no longer about you, but about the patient. You can still tell your story, but in a much more powerful and compelling way. You can create a recognizable brand promise and value equation which the consumer will understand.

Focus on the patient.

Focus on their needs.

Focus on the patient experience to drive revenue.

Focus on the patient experience to differentiate yourself.

Most healthcare organizations are frozen in time, even more so now with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They are caught in a vicious planning cycle with no end in sight. Neither acting or reacting, most healthcare organizations are missing out on valuable market opportunities. They are doing what they have always done, approaching the market like consumers are idiots and are only impressed with high-tech machines, smiling happy patients, exterior building visuals and doctors looking into microscopes. There will be winners and losers. And that is already being determined while you wait and try to figure out what it all means.

Start meeting consumer needs and build your brand around experience and framing those expectations to your advantage.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is the value of your healthcare brand?

With healthcare changing so rapidly, is it time to move healthcare marketing beyond " it's all about us" to "it's all about you" through focused brand architecture containing a clear and compelling brand promise that proves every day the value of your healthcare brand to the healthcare consumer? Unless you are a brand new provider in the market, you have been beating the healthcare consumer for years now all about your features and benefits. They get it.

In today's brave new world, it's about brand value to the healthcare consumer, perceived and real along several dimensions that most healthcare organizations haven't paid too much attention too, but the healthcare consumer is. Your brand will be viewed and will be challenged by multiple audiences along these dimensions: price; outcomes; experience; access; convenience; and choice.

And if you don't have answers to these brand attributes that healthcare consumers are starting to look for, then you won't be able to answer their question of what is my ROI for using you?

If you aren't paying attention to how your brand is perceived in the market and what your key brand attributes are, then don't be surprised when the competition defines them for you. The healthcare consumer will define them as well and it won't be pretty.

Brand Value Marketing

This is about creating a brand through value marketing that is a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace. It is a dynamic transaction that constantly changes based on the needs of the individual vies a vie what the healthcare organization has to offer.

So instead of talking about what you do every day, talk about what the value of what your brand accomplishes.

Instead of talking about programs and serves that everybody else has like your competitors, talk about the value of those same programs and services and brand promise of the value they bring to the healthcare consumer.

Try not saying we have the latest high-tech gizmo, but talk about the value of what that latest, greatest high-tech gizmo brings to the healthcare consumer.

Why just display those quality awards from third parties, when you can talk to the healthcare consumer about the value of what that award means to them. Leverage those third party awards to your brands benefit.

Stop talking at your audiences, talk to them in a meaningful way along your brand attributes. Talk to them about your brand, its value and how you are their partner by offering a value based solution exchange to their healthcare concerns.

It's time for healthcare CEOs, Boards and healthcare marketers to stop doing over and over again those things that are out-of-touch with the new reality that is healthcare. The healthcare consumer is awakening and demanding more. More proof. More value. Better price. More brand differentiation among competitors.

After all, 6 million Americans go off-shore for healthcare treatment every year. And major employers are cutting deals for certain procedures and flying employees elsewhere to receive better healthcare from your communities.

They can't all be wrong.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where does healthcare marketing go from here?


If you think because reform and the Affordable Care Act that marketing is just an unnecessary expense and you don’t need to invest resources, then you are in for a rude awakening. In the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead, marketing will become as important a department in healthcare organizations as another other department.

Here are the 10 market factors impacting why you need an “A” level marketing operation. Now.

1. Brand. Your healthcare brand will take more of a front and center stage in the new healthcare environment. It’s not just the logo or how displayed. It’s now about what your brand stands for, your brand promise and how you deliver on that each and every day in every encounter. Do you even know what your brand promise is?

2. Competition. Here it comes on a lot of different levels. On price. On outcomes. On organizational transparency. On patient experience. Long gone are the days of build it and they will come. Also gone are the days when you could get way with talking about private rooms, internet access, HD TVs, or how you are such wonderful people because you care. Patients, consumer’s employers and others are demanding information along meaningful attributes.

3. Patient experience. Still a top concern of senior leadership, patient experience across all touch-points needs to be improved. Not just the single clinical service un-integrated internal focus that most healthcare organizations take. Patient experience is about the totality and only improving one aspect of that experience leaves you vulnerable in other areas. It’s also about market research in understanding every detail and facet of that experience from the patient’s viewpoint, not yours. And that only comes from talking to your healthcares consumers.

4. Patient engagement. Different than experience, engagement is about actually developing a meaningful relationship with your healthcare consumers to build loyalty, change health behaviors and keep them from going out of network in a risk-sharing arrangement like an ACO to receive care. How do you expect to engage patients when you still send information “To our neighbors at” direct mail?

5. Demand management. Now, with a potential 40 million plus healthcare consumers having some type of insurance, the pent-up demand for healthcare services will be unleashed. That's good from the standpoint of the market in meeting the needs of healthcare consumers, but bad from the market standpoint of insufficient capacity to meet that demand. Healthcare marketing departments are going to have to learn how to manage demand and move that demand for service to the appropriate care setting and medical practitioner. Market some services and de-market others.

6. The networked healthcare consumer. The networked healthcare consumer is someone who has an intense curiosity about their health condition, expects to have an active role in making healthcare decisions and this is most important, they want control of their health information. They actively use the internet, social media , blogs, web site, apps and seek out others. They read and study about their health condition. They ask questions and will seek out alternatives. They look at providers from a quality standpoint and make judgments based on outcomes information. They want an answer to their own needs. The patient is asking what is their ROI by using you?

7. Physician Optimization and Integration. Marketing? Really? While you focus on integrating the newly employed physician or group practice and making them or keeping them profitable, how are you integrating them culturally into your healthcare system? Scant attention is devoted to such matters, but they are not trivial by any means. Culture is important and marketing should be playing a leading role in that acculturation process. Besides, you still have to work to continuously build the practice, so marketing better be there leading that effort. I have seen the physician practice operations consultants say they are strategic marketers and can do that. The great majority are clueless about marketing strategy and confuse strategy with tactics. Keep them in operations and out of marketing.

8. Marketing Strategy. Strategy and effective marketing operations is everything today in healthcare marketing. And if you have a bad strategy or no strategy, combined with marketing operational deficiencies, then no amount of tactical execution will overcome ineptitude. If you don't have a good strategy, any old road will get you to where you want to go, with significant inefficient resources utilization in cost, human capital and loss of return. Some of the verticals in the healthcare industry, are notorious for no strategy and just plain bad marketing operations, following the herd and just keeping the internal audience happy with what they want.

9. Return on Marketing Investment. No longer a nice to have, its a got to have. Unless you are measuring the outcomes of your marketing efforts along the dimensions of financial indicators, market share, brand, satisfaction, experience, brand, and its impact on organizational profitability, then why are you doing marketing "things". Marketing accountability is no different than accountability for any other part of your organization. And oh by the way, that accountability doesn't mean nice shiny marketing awards.

10. Marketing leadership. It's is time for marketing to get back to the leadership table. The healthcare marketing leader needed today must have a clear understanding of healthcare, clinical and business operations, as well as the business and financial plan. The healthcare marketing leader should be able to articulate those plans and integrate them into the strategic marketing plan of the organization. They should be able to step in and hold their own in discussions with CEOs, COO, CFOs and Boards. And that means holding those discussions in their terms. That requires a broad and deep understanding of healthcare operations to supplement your marketing education and experience.

You have a lot of work to do. No time like the present to start.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In loving memory of my mother Beverly S. Krivich nee Saylor




August 20, 1931 - November 30, 2012
 
An extraordianry mother and friend.
You are loved and will always be remembered.

81, passed away Friday, November 30, 2012 at Silver Cross Hospital, New Lenox. Beloved wife of the late John; loving mother of Michael (Julie), Theresa (Wayne) Mikulec, Steven (Donna), Susan (Michael) Mikoff, and Kathy (Michael) Amesquita; dear sister of Lynda (Bill) Ledbetter, cherished grandmother of Jonathan, Andrew (Melissa), Ryan, Miguel, Timothy, Brett, Tyler, Conner, Alexandria, and Rachel. Beverly was a member of St. Jude Catholic Church in New Lenox. Family will receive at Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 102 E. Francis Road, New Lenox, IL 60451 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 from 3-8Pm. Funeral Service Wednesday, December 5, 2012 with prayers at 9:30AM to St, Jude Catholic Church, New Lenox for Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00AM. Interment St. Mary Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations to the New Lenox Township Food Pantry, 1100 South Cedar Road, New Lenox, IL., 60451 appreciated. For information, Kurtz Memorial Chapel or 815-485-3200.

My regular postings for Healthcare Marketing Matters will return next week.

Michael J Krivich, FACHE, PCM

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How are you using technology to improve the patient experience?


The other day, I received a call from my PBM. Not being home, they left a message and return number. Now this is where it gets interesting. When I called the number I just didn't reach an individual in a call center, the line was answered with thank you Michael for calling us back. Really.

I called a return number expecting to be told all lines are busy and please wait for the next available person, or if you know the persons extension lease dial it now, right to a personalized greeting. Pretty slick and the start of a great patient experience. For me, that was an excellent example of how technology deployed and utilized leads to a better individualized patient experience. And this PBM has millions of members.

How are you keeping up with technological advances to allow you to customize and improve the patient experience?

Technology when applied creatively can be used to customize and improve the experience of an individual even when those patients number in the millions. When you look at your specialty pharmacy, hospital and nursing home or any other healthcare setting, which doesn't necessarily have millions of patients, why can't you do this?

The majority of patent experience improvement efforts are focused internally looking at the same systems, processes and outcomes time and again. Usually leading to incremental improvement, maybe a little less paper and a slight improvement in waiting times. But if you extend your patient experience improvement efforts to include technology focused solutions for improvements that can be customized for a more personalized experience, you may find that your efforts leap forward and patient's have the start of a better experience.

Personalize the kiosk messaging after an individual signs in.

Leaving a message for a return call, using similar technology for the return call and personalize the experience ala the PBM.

The physician is delayed or the surgery is late etc, send a text with the new approximate new appointment or test start time.

Using technology to improve the patient experience means being creative and adaptable. It also means changing the way you do business, your systems and processes.

These are just some examples. The patient experience just doesn't start when they walk into facility. It starts at first contact regardless of the where or how, be it you or the individual reaching out. Start using technology to your advantage.

The networked, technologically savvy patient has arrived and expects the same of you for a better experience.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When do you start patient engagement?


Patient engagement doesn't start when the healthcare consumer enters your healthcare system for diagnosis, treatment and care. Patient engagement begins before they ever need medical care.

It has been a most interesting year of change for healthcare in 2012. The Supreme Court made its decision. The Presidential elections are over and healthcare reform is full speed ahead. Full speed ahead that is into the great unknown. A topsy-turvy world where the patient begins to assume more of the decision-making and involvement in their healthcare.

Individuals and families are facing more out-of-pocket expense too as employers shift the cost of care to employees. Ditto eveyone else for that matter too, government or private. When people pay more, they pay attention. Attention to the price. Attention to the experience. Attention to you. Attention to your marketing and brand.

And that means you have an opportunity. An opportunity to engage the patient in meaningful ways. Not about awards from third parties that you pay them to use, or HD TVs, or private rooms, or valet parking. That is just so 2000 and pejorative. Patients aren't idiots.

As you set your strategic marketing plans and tactical budgets for 2013, a key component is how you will begin to engage the patient, aka healthcare consumer. And it's not just wellness programs, seminars, community events or material copied on bright neon paper. It takes strategy, commitment and learning. It starts way before they ever seek medical treatment.

Here are nine patient engagement strategies you need to employ:

1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly to patients, so that they can interact with you any way they want, when they want too.

2. Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging. Messaging needs to be relevant to the patient at the point in time that they need it. Personalized, customized, aware of the cultural heritage and influences tailored to them.

3. Patient incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative. Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage. After all, patients are people too.

4.Create a sense of community. You have to compete for patients, especially if you are forming an ACO or employing physicians. You need to feed the beast. You have to get into the inner circle of your audiences and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. You need to shape patient behaviors to the point where they will recommend you.

5. Know your audience and with who you are speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding. Gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture etc. You cannot engage the patient unless you are intimately knowledgeable about them, their needs and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Test and measure. This is no time to be reactive. You have to know how to approach patients and engage them, You don't have the answers. The only way to can figure out if it's working is to test and measure in a very methodical way.

7. Fast Failure. We live in a world of technology and you need to run a multifaceted ,highly integrated campaign. With web, text messaging, mobile messaging, QR codes etc, if you structure it appropriately, and this is a big if, and you are testing and measuring, you will know if it's working or not. If your marketing model , is not working, get out. Get out quickly and allocate those resources elsewhere. Failure is successful because you learn from it. Fail fast.

8. Know the influence of the patients culture on behavior to engage them. You need to know who the individual is culturally, their affinity groups, and religious beliefs to name just a few items, beyond gender and age.

9. Time it right and add value. If you health messaging is not resonating with the patient when they receive it, then you have lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like you have never known them in the past .For example, a patient or healthcare consumer, going to a restaurant to eat, or a supermarket to purchase groceries, means sending them health messages at that time, in order to enable them to make the right food choices. It's not impossible.

Patients are moving from passive healthcare participants to active healthcare participants. That's why you engage them.

Don't engage, don't survive. It's really pretty simple now.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Are you getting ready to manage demand for healthcare services?


Now that the election is over and the course is more clearly outlined for implementation of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, you need to start thinking about demand management heading to 2014. Not demand generation, but demand management.

The role of healthcare marketing departments for the most part has been demand generation. Put "heads in the beds" and get paid for the production of care. Now, with a potential 40 million plus healthcare consumers having some type of insurance, the pent-up demand for healthcare services will be unleashed. That's good from the standpoint of the market in meeting the needs of healthcare consumers, but bad from the market standpoint of insufficient capacity to meet that demand.

Healthcare marketing departments are going to have to learn how to manage demand and move that demand for service to the appropriate care setting and medical practitioner. Market some services and de-market others.


And that is not an easy thing to do, because believe it or not, you are still going to have some demand generation but it will be very different that today. Not everyone will be in an ACO or medical home. Not everyone will be in Medicare or Medicaid. Not everyone will have employer sponsored insurance. Some will buy insurance in the insurance exchanges. Some may not even have insurance at all.

So while you are learning to more effectively to mange service demand in an environment of insufficient capacity with a healthcare consumer and patient who may be facing long waits to receive care, you will be generating demand for some healthcare consumers.

The demand generation part will come from targeting those individuals who have the means to pay privately and go outside of the normal channels to receive care. Private individuals who don't want to wait. American's hate to wait in queues anyway. Its cultural thing here. Have long waits for something or even rationing it, and people always find a way to get around it. So, healthcare marketers need to take advantage and attract those "private payers". It's not being mean or cruel, it is just a fact of life. But not every healthcare provider will be able to accomplish that feat.

Most healthcare organizations really aren't ready for the sophisticated marketing they will need to employ to manage demand. It's not a flip of the switch from marketing "things look pretty" and having a nice facebook page or web site, to understanding the complexity of the healthcare consumer and the demand for healthcare services. It takes a while to build that capacity. Your hardest decision may be understanding that you may not have the marketing operation resources, capital and human in place to get the job done. Its senior leadership admitting they don't know really all that much about marketing. And elevating marketing to the senior management table to bring that expertise.

Welcome to the new reality of healthcare marketing where demand management trumps making things look pretty and being an afterthought.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How intertwined is patient experience & outcomes?


Or another way of asking that question is, can you have a high quality patient experience and not be transparent regarding outcomes? I believe the two go hand-in-hand and are not separate from each other. Yet, when a healthcare organizations begin the patient experience improvement process, seldom do they consider how outcomes transparency will drive that experience.

Sometimes the patient's first experience with you is through your marketing. Think your new movers welcome program, community direct mailings, facebook, social media, web site, advertisements, press coverage and such. Long before they ever experience a service or encounter an employee, they have already started the experience process.

And outcomes data is usually nowhere to be found. The patient aka healthcare consumer, considers your transparency about outcomes to be part of that experience. The buzz in the media and articles is that there needs to be more outcomes information, beside pricing, so consumers can make informed decisions, or at the very least, be able to participate in the healthcare decision-making process. This establishes a pretty strong expectation on an individual's part that you will provide at some point that data to support the experience claims.

Experience you see is just isn't the hotel services, fast check-in or staff being pleasant and nice. It's about your quality outcomes. If you're not talking about your outcomes, then once again, you are really focused on the patient experience in its totality.

Now this is a scary value proposition for any number of healthcare organizations. Not necessarily for bad outcomes, but from becoming the transparent organization that shares its outcomes data with the patient in the experience process. Healthcare organizations can be secretive places even to their own staffs. So how do you think the patient feels when you talk about the experience yet don't talk about the outcomes?

The patient experience and outcomes are very intertwined. Your challenge is changing the organization and become more global and inclusive by including outcomes in your patient experience process. It is also your challenge to look at patient experience in its totality and not just in the diagnostic or treatment encounter.

Patients are expecting quality experiences and access to outcomes data. Same expectation with employees, payers and the government.

No way around it anymore. Time for healthcare organizations to step up and provide a complete patient experience, not just what they think the experience should be.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why are you delaying the start to improve patient experience and satisfaction?


In the October 2012 issue of HealthLeaders, the article "Placing your Bets" contained a chart that caught my eye regarding the ranking of the top issues that are CEO priorities over the next three years. No surprise as improving patient experience and satisfaction is the No.2 priority over the next 3 years. Just like it has been for the past couple of years.

Which led me to wonder, are you out of time to start the process and do you really have three years?

Don't take me wrong, there has been some total patient experience improvement activity especially by some notable and prestigious healthcare organizations. For the rest of the healthcare industry, the majority of patient experience activities have focused on one or two clinical or diagnostic services isolated from the entire patient experience first touch-point to last.

Patient experience is built from the first time an individual comes in contact with you to the very last contact with all of the individual touch-points along the way playing a significant role. Satisfaction is a measure of part of that journey that focuses on the care experience. Which if you think about it, only cover one-third of the time that an individual is really a "patient".

Improving the patient experience and satisfaction is as much about changing the culture of the organization as it is improving the touch-points and process. And to change an organizational culture to improve the patient experience to bring the experience into alignment with satisfaction takes at least five years.

If you want to improve the patient experience and satisfaction scores, you have to focus on the organizational culture as much as the touch-points and processes of experience and satisfaction.

I started writing about patient experience management in January 2011. Even back then it was always listed in various CEO surveys has a high priority. You can search the blog for the whole series if you wish too. Make sure that you use the term customer experience as well.

Improving the patient experience or satisfaction scores is not like flipping a switch that when the time comes. It takes time, effort, market research by talking to your patients, process and touch-point improvement and change. And that takes time; a lot of it.

No red easy button here.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How come you don’t talk to your patients and map the experience?



As I have written many times over the past few years, to fix patient experience you have to look at the entire patient experience journey from the first touch point to the last. That can only come from talking directly to your patients and completing an experience map. That means you have to talk to your patients, not just your employees, senior leadership or physicians. Patient satisfaction scores are not a proxy for engaging directly with patients in an experience map exercise.

With so much riding on experience today, I am still amazed at the number of healthcare organizations that treat patient experience like it is some isolated event that only happens within the four walls of a healthcare organization. That is old school and is a really dangerous way to live if you’re serious about your healthcare organization surviving in the years to come.

Is it that terrifying for you to have an honest to goodness face-to-face conversation with your patients to really understand their experience? I mean really, stop talking about being a Kaiser, Mayo or MD Anderson “wannabe” in the area of emulating their patient experience. Because unless you are willing to map the patent experience based on those patient conversations and not the guesses of employees, managers, physicians and leadership, it’s not going to improve.

Patients know more about you than you can possibly imagine and they are looking for reason to deselect you from their choice of providers. They do look to the Mayo and Kaiser experience, their reputation and what they have heard from a variety of sources, using that as the gold standard for patient experience and you know what, you are just not measuring up.

That is not to say you have to be a Mayo, Kaiser or MD Anderson. What that does mean is the you have to talk directly to your patients, map the experiences from beginning to end and then make changes across all of the patient touch points to create that exceptional patent experience. Without that, your patient experience improvement process and attempts are just hollow shells.

Here is another little secret too about improving patient experience.

Involve you marketing departments in patient experience process. Not to make things look pretty or design a nice logo for the effort, but to help you talk to your patients. It's not about you it's about them. Isn't that part of the reason of why you have a marketing department, to understand the needs of your customers and how they make healthcare purchase and utilization decisions? So, if marketing is not talking to your patients about their experience, then what makes you think you can change it?

And here's another thought, marketing should be leading the effort instead of clinicians or department managers. The reason why many healthcare organizations are successful in patient experience is because, they talk to their patient directly, map the experience from beginning to end and their marketing departments take clear leading roles in the patient experience process.

It's not rocket science. But it demands organizational change and looking from the outside in from the patients perspective. And that only comes from marketing talking directly to them and mapping it out.

Really, even in Great Britain with a single payer system in the National Health Service, talks to their patients and maps the experience.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.






Saturday, October 13, 2012

What happens when the patient experience falls apart?


True story. "Well, you can always bring her back to the hospital if she still has trouble breathing", said the home health care nurse from the hospital less than 2 hours after a patient had been discharged from the hospital. Oh, and did I tell you that her eye was infected, almost fell going to the bathroom in the hospital and informed the nurse, had slurred speech and could barley ambulate? Yes, that patient had been cleared by all to be discharged from the hospital.

Guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she was back in the hospital via the ER at 3:30 A.M

And then the family hears an ad about all the wonderful quality care awards from third parties that they receive, and how many lives would be saved if everyone was as good as them.

What do you think the family thought?

The really sad part is that this healthcare experience is not atypical.

Countless times every day, the patient experience goes south in healthcare. Big things and small things alike that take place in the healthcare encounter all add up to one patient experience, good or bad.

When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction. But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs, admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

Here's a clue.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just managing the experience at isolated points along the care continuum. It's not about just focusing on service recovery like something was wrong with a hotel stay. Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience Management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore. It's also about providing the right care too.

So when the patient experience goes south, your reputation, your brand and your future in a risk or value-based payment environment goes south. And then there are those readmissions penalties you face when a patient like this comes back in less than 30 days.

You should see what's being said on facebook and in social media circles from others that chime about how bad their experience was at that particular hospital.

What is really sad, is that there has been no effort at any type of service recovery effort. No acknowledgement or even awareness of anything having gone wrong in the experience or being wrong at all.

Yep, the chuckle factor is really high when those quality award ads are heard.

Pay attention to the patient experience, and pay attention to the marketing. They are not separated, but closely related.

The healthcare consumer is paying close attention; especially when it's your mother that is the patient.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How do you market to the networked patient?

Now that more healthcare information general and personal is available today than at any previous time, and healthcare reform is only going to accelerate the information exchange including outcomes transparency, how can you market and leverage in a comprehensive fashion, all that information and change?

What do you think the networked patient is saying about you in social media circles, after CMS announced the penalties for 2013 because of your high readmission rates and you greeted that with silence?

Welcome to the age of the networked patient.

The networked patient is someone who has an intense curiosity about their health condition, expects to have an active role in making healthcare decisions and this is most important, they want control of their health information.

They actively use the internet, social media , blogs, web site, apps and seek out others. They read and study about their health condition. They ask questions and will seek out alternatives. The look at providers from a quality standpoint and make judgments based on outcomes information. They want an answer to their own needs. The patient is asking what is their ROI by using you?

There are some key to keep in mind when starting to market to the networked patient:.

• Your brand, your brand promise and messaging is all important;

• Quality data transparency, reporting and patient access to that information is everything;

• Access to their own health information 24/7 is a deal breaker if not provided;

• Talk about the patient experience and outcomes;

• Don't insult this patient with messaging that is all fluff, about us or is just plain condescending;

• All communication needs to be personalized talking to the patient not at them;

• Use all available communication channels- Iphone apps,, email, social media, web site blue button, email, etc.

Be creative, this is uncharted territory so limits are nonexistent and don't place any on yourself. Stop saying, why we can't do something, start saying how we can. This is a major change in the way healthcare is administered and delivered in the U.S.

Providers need to recognizing that the age of the healthcare consumer is upon us.

I would to say thank you to my followers and readers of Healthcare Marketing Matters (HMM). HMM is now consistently over 5,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries. The heat map is from blogger stats and shows the countries where the majority of readers reside. I guess in the end, healthcare. healthcare marketing and the issues we all face are pretty much the same.




Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Follow us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are we too focused on satisfaction in patient experience management?

When was the last time in your patient experience management efforts, you looked at the entirety of the patient experience inside and out, as opposed to what takes place inside the four walls of the hospital?

From the questions and requests I receive regarding patient experience management, it's usually preference by we are looking t improve our satisfaction scores. And interestingly enough, well , I find it interesting, is that these questions come not from healthcare marketers, but from clinicians and quality professionals who have been charged with improving the patient experience. Really, they are fully versed on how the patient views the totality of the organization beyond the clinical experience?

Patient satisfaction is but one indicator of experience, not the be all and end all. Experience management is about the totality of the patients experience a from first contact through diagnosis, treatment, discharge and post care. So why then you are only focusing on the inpatient or ambulatory experience, as measured by satisfaction scores?. Your efforts are too focused and too narrow.

Patient Experience Management is all about the culture.

It is not managing to a survey.

It is not just a program.

It is not just a one-time activity.

Healthcare providers do "dumb things" all the time. And they never seem to learn from that experience. So what happens when test results aren't available, the bill is wrong and a person cannot get the information they want or is on hold for too long?

Well, all the compensatory goodwill built up in the patient encounter is lost because of these little "dumb mistakes" that healthcare providers make day-in and day-out. Those mistakes continue to build until they become non-compensatory event. Meaning that all the good encountered in the patient experience is washed away like a flood.

That's why it's important to view Patient Experience Management in its totality and not as an one service or clinical line experience. It may be for you, but to the healthcare customer-patient who views your organization across numerous touch-points and aggregates all of it into one overall experience, it's not.

Part of the process of experience management is actively managing customers-patients experiences to meet expectations and change their experiences to drive revenue and market share improvements. It's not all about the patient satisfaction numbers. Experience management has a definable and measurable financial outcome. But you cannot achieve those revenue outcomes if you are not looking at experience management in its totality.

By not fully understanding your customer-patient in their totality, you are not successfully managing their experience or expectations.

When was the last time you considered making marketing part of the experience management efforts beyond making things look pretty? Now that's a really dumb hospital mistake.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Should outcomes transparency drive healthcare marketing?


In a very enlightening article "How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us", by Dr. Marty Makary, Wall Street Journal, Saturday, September 22. 2012, writes about the importance of outcomes transparency for hospitals. It's about releasing your outcomes data to patients and others so that they can make informed decisions.

It's time for hospital executives to stand up, be counted and stop the equivalent of four, fully loaded jumbo jets crashing each day and killing all aboard like we do in healthcare.

This is a topics that is near and dear to me. Well maybe even a soapbox issue, having written about using outcomes dates and being transparent in healthcare marketing for the past couple of years.

And I am glad to see a physician stand up and say, it's time for a change. Writing specifically on the types of data and in a dashboard format.

I think and have maintain for a while now, that it is time to give the healthcare consumer be it physicians, payers, government, employer, individual or family, or any other stakeholder you can identify, quality and outcomes data to make decisions.

That's really the only avenue left for healthcare providers, to start talking about quality and outcomes. Engaging in a meaningful dialogue, that goes beyond accreditation logos and quality awards from third parties, to an actual honest-to-goodness quality and outcomes disclosure and discussion.

Few healthcare providers are willing. Most are afraid of this direction. But, it's a strategy and tactic that can break the current cycle of avoidance and loss. Recognizing that your customers are best served by the healthcare organization that places them first in a meaningful way, is open and transparent.

You have some choices here. Stay the course and do what you have been doing. Get lost in an endless paralysis by analysis loop. Mimic your competitors. Talk about quality and outcomes in vague terms. Or, be the first in your market, to establish a clear strategic marketing plan focused on your healthcare consumers about your brand, quality and outcomes.

Sooner or later, you are going to have to do this.

If you are not willing to change, then don't expect a different outcome from doing the same old healthcare marketing that you have been.

I suggest that you read the article. The future of healthcare outcomes disclosure is here.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can you leverage the hospital readmissions issue in your market?


Okay, before I start getting bombarded with the "how can you even think that you can use the readmission penalties being leveled against hospitals in marketing" statements, hear me out. Readmissions is a complicated issue that involves a lot more than the hospital stay. In some cases, it is the hospital and I have experienced it personally.

So, what does it mean to leverage the readmissions issue with your hospital good or bad in your market area? Two trains of thought here.

The first one is if you're getting the charged with a penalty and identified in the CMS list, then I suggest to you, instead of diving for under the desk and ignoring the issue hoping that the public won't pay attention, is a dreadfully wrong strategy. Ignoring it because people can't understand it, and its way to complicated to explain anyway.

You need to design a PR and marketing campaign that explains the readmissions issue in terms the healthcare consumer can understand.

People are paying attention and will assume that if you aren't talking about it then you're hiding something. So, leverage it and turn the tables. Show how you are becoming the market leader by attacking the complexities of the issue. Turn it from a hospital-focused issue to a healthcare delivery issue. Don't blame, lead.

Remember, if you have been touting those quality awards, and when this happens, the healthcare consumer will have some cognizance dissonance going on in their head. The two aren't mutually exclusive in the minds of consumers and are linked. Which really only reinforces their belief that those awards are meaningless, if you are being penalized because patients are being readmitted to your hospital in less than 30 days for what they were treated for in the first place. If you let that happen, shame on you.

The second thought is leveraging the issue by moving into the realm of outcomes transparency in your marketing and PR efforts.

I am not advocating in the least to link outcomes to readmissions. What I am saying that is if you have a very low readmissions rates, there are a lot of reasons for that and you need to be clear about why what you are doing is so different than everyone else. The healthcare consumer what's to know. Start talking about your outcomes, linkages in the community and support provided. It's called leading with a better way and informing the healthcare consumer.

It takes finesse to handle, but you have one very large opportunity to redefine the market and perceptions based on transparency.

Hospital senior leadership and Boards, can no longer take the road of silence. Healthcare has already changed too much and the healthcare consumer is demanding more. Old ways don't work, so you might as well get with the program and start leveraging opportunities as they present.

Readmissions PR and marketing is one of those opportunities and it's not going to be the last.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who do you market, primary care physicians or specialists?


Another way to ask that question is who matters more going forward; the high-cost specialist or the primary care physician who is the gatekeeper for admissions, referrals and treatment? The answer is really self explanatory.

So why then do hospitals and health systems continue to market their specialists?

I think there are a number of reason for that, but mainly healthcare marketing and in some cases senior leadership is slow to change their marketing paradigm. It's easier internally to promote specialists. Its feeds internal hospital beast that marketing is doing something. It makes the Board and senior management happy not to mention the specialists.

Let's face it, I never heard hospital senior management jump up and down with glee when I talked about physician referral advertising and promoting primary care. And that was in the 1990s. Still pretty much true today in 2012.

But primary care is where it is at and healthcare marketing departments with their senor leadership teams need to get on the train. This goes well beyond just employing primary care physicians. It mean making substantial changes in your healthcare marketing and not focusing on the gee-whiz technology or specialty physician.

With millions of people potentially gaining health insurance, their first stop is going to be the primary care physician not the specialist. It may even be a physician extender in a retail clinic setting. But, it won't be the hospital or the specialist.

Okay, maybe the hospital ED where you can get the chance to involve a primary care physician in the follow-up care. But in the near future that's the last place you want to see someone for routine care. And people will continue to go there if they don't have a primary care physician.

So when you think about 2013 marketing, I highly recommend that all you healthcare marketers out there start focusing on marketing your primary care physicians. Including those primary care physicians that are employed as well as those that are independent practitioners admitting to your inpatient beds and referring to your outpatient services.

Building a differentiate-able market position, defendable experience/service strategy to get ahead of your competition, as well as the ability to participate in risk sharing and value based purchasing agreements is going to depend heavily on your ability to market your primary care physicians.

If you wait until 2014 to change your healthcare marketing strategy from specialist to primary care, it will already be too late.

That sound you hear is the train leaving the station.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why can't you get the customer/ patient experience right?


Patients and healthcare consumers alike are seeking information on great outcomes and experience. That's right. Great outcomes and experiences. Not ordinary outcomes or experiences. Telling the healthcare consumer that you provide compassionate care and high-quality medical care, is falling on deaf ears. Especially, when the experience doesn't even come close to the claim.

And as we get deeper into the Affordable Care Act with risk and value -based payment models, experience will play a deciding role in success or failure. Healthcare consumers will bypass those hospitals and healthcare providers that have less than great outcomes or experiences. Same for insurance plans, doctors and others. When the individual has some skin in the game, i.e., high out-of pocket expenses and deductibles, their experience matters.

I am not saying that is fair, or right. It is a reality of a changing marketplace.

When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction. But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs, admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

And it is just not hospitals. Insurance companies, specialty pharmacies, PBMs, home health and others, that are experiencing the same challenges in managing patient, consumer or member experience.

I know leadership is considering the ever increasing role of satisfaction scores in the CMS value purchasing programs and they effect of HCAHPS on revenue. It has a direct financial outcome. Do well and receive additional revenue, fail and it will cost you. Insurance companies will follow the government and move to more value purchasing arrangements as well.

A financial whammy approaches that requires new ways of doing business for the healthcare provider. News ways of marketing and communicating to patients and healthcare consumers. Change and you can prosper. Refuse and find financial difficulties caused by market share losses.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just at isolated points along the care continuum, Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience Management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore.

If you are not in direct conversation with your patients or healthcare consumers you will never get it right.

The speed of change in healthcare has accelerated beyond the point of no return. Healthcare providers no longer have the time to engage in endless internal dialogue, and paralysis by analysis planning loops, before moving forward. Individuals expect you to care. Individuals expect you to have high-quality outcomes.

The only way you can differentiate is through creating and maintaining that exceptional experience. And that only comes through active management of the experience process.

If you want to succeed you have to learn to manage the whole experience process, not just one piece of it. Until you do that, you can't get it right.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Are you using social media to engage the healthcare consumer/patient?


To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question? Faced with a dizzying array of possibilities from twitter to facebook to YouTube, LinkedIn, flicker and others, healthcare providers are struggling with developing a comprehensive social media strategy to engage their customers.

Understandable really. Some of the concern comes from not understanding the power and uses of social media and how consumers are the new paparazzi. Some comes from trying to figure out how a social media strategy fits into the overall marketing plan. Some is purely from executive ignorance in not understanding the place and uses of social media in the life of the healthcare consumer.

In many cases its all of the above and others, including and by far the most pervasive, the never ending paralysis by analysis planning loop and engaging in that quest for the perfect best practice before proceeding.

It's not just a facebook page, LinkedIn, blogging, web site or twitter.

This is an opportunity to experiment, to deliver new content, new key messages with non-traditional methods to reach out too and engage in a meaningful way the networked healthcare consumer. An opportunity to engage in dialogue, a dialogue which the patient/healthcare consumer desires to have more than you can imagine.

Follow these steps and you're on your way to developing and implementing a strategically-focused, comprehensive and fully integrated social media strategy:

1. Strategy first, tactics second. Any old road will get you to where you want to go without a clear identifiable strategy. This is no different than a traditional marketing approach. Integrate the tools and techniques of social media into your overall marketing efforts.

2. Be clear about your messages and what value using these tools will bring to your healthcare consumers. The purpose is to engage in a dialogue not shout at them. You have to understand what type of information and content your consumers want. Without that knowledge you can say whatever you want, but chances are no one will be reading, responding or listening.

3. Take an integrated approach. What goes on your web site is also on facebook and used in twitter to drive traffic to you. Twitter is a great way to send out links for health related articles or news and information. Have a video? Post it on YouTube. Writing a healthcare blog? You should be if you're not. Make sure twitter, facebook, YouTube, flicker etc follow you buttons are on your site. Running Back-to- School, Sports or Camp physicals? Put it on twitter, facebook and even those coupon sites like Groupon. Holding a health and wellness event, ditto.

4. Use QR codes with your web site or specific page links or phone number embedded in them to drive them to your site, call center or service line. Through the use of QR codes you can make your print and traditional activities social in nature.

5. Remember at all times your are building brand, perception and experience. This just isn't nice to have, people will remember what you say and do. Be right the first time.

6. Devote resources, budget, time and personnel for the task. Your challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time. Attention spans are short. If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away.

7. Measure everything. Evaluate. Adjust based on your findings.

8. Be creative, don't limit yourself to the tried and true or what a competitor is doing. Be an innovator.

9. Use social media with your physicians and employees to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.

10. Build excitement around what you are doing.

The patient and healthcare consumer of today social media savvy and networked to the nth degree. They expect the same of you.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Are You Improving the Physician Experience?


As hospitals and health systems continue to search for ways to integrate physicians in any number of ways, an oft overlooked aspect in the integration efforts is activity aimed at improving the physician experience. Sadly it appears that little effort is made in the critical success factor.

What's wrong with this picture?

If you are really serious about integrating physicians, beyond the control of patients and while in still the fee-for-service payment model growing revenue and volume, you must, not need too, but you must make changes in the physician experience in your organization.

No matter that the healthcare consumer is in the beginning stages of learning how to be empowered. No matter that the payment model is changing from a production-based, to a risk and quality-based. No matter, that you are employing physicians. If you want to successful integrate and grow, you need to change the physician experience with your healthcare organization.

Face it. Nothing happens unless you have a physicians order. No test. No surgery. No home health care. No specialty drug. No nothing.

What will bring you the greatest Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)?

Running ads that tell consumers are how great you are because you just got an award? Or focusing considerable time, resources and energy on improving the physician experience across all your organizational touch-points? Highly satisfied physicians will see you as an efficient and efficient hospital, health system or specialty pharmacy for example, who allows them to do that they do best, practice medicine? As a side note, research is now showing the consumer doesn't believe the award ads anyway.

Its about their experience in admitting, treating and referring patients to your emergency room, hospital, pharmacy, surgical center or a home care agency to name a few of the providers docs deal with on a daily basis. How easy is it for them to practice medicine in your facility? How many complaints do they get from their patients about you? How do you lessen the hassle factor for them to do what they want? Namely, practice medicine.

More than your own perceived features and benefits.

Be ready to make changes in how you do things. When your physician liaison, account rep, or insert title here person comes back, and says he or she is finding obstacles that physicians are encountering in admitting or practicing medicine in your organization, be ready to make meaningful changes. If not, you're just wasting your time and money sending out people to a physician or multispecialty group.

Bottom line, successfully improving your physician experiences makes for more effective and efficient physicians. And the direct impact of that combined with effective practice management is lower cost, higher quality, profitable practices and opportunities for more effective marketing.

Did I mention more satisfied patients too?

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How can you quickly improve healthcare market position and generate revenue?


Have you ever taken a step back and from a strategic standpoint looking at what you can do to nearly immediately improves your market position and revenue generation? This isn't about massive advertising campaigns, gimmicks, wellness programs, etc. Its more about getting the basics right. The blocking and tackling that you need to do now, to prepare for risk and value-based payment models. If you can't get it right in fee-for-service model, then how do you expect to get it right in a risk model?

So very quickly here are six ways to improve your market position and generate revenue.

1. Brand and competitive position.

Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying their needs and how they want their healthcare needs meet though technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next-generation of physicians. It's not a crime to use text messaging to send people information or confirmations about appointments, health reminders, or use QR codes to link to specific education or health offers.

2. Engage existing customers and patients.

An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you. That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase. Pre and post this, they are a consumer not a patient. So why then is it the only time you meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient? Doesn't make a lot of sense really. Consumer and patient engagement is about all of the time, not just some of the time. Engaging the individual on a continuous basis builds loyalty and return use or repurchase behavior.

3. Engage the physicians.

No matter the payment model you will still need a physicians or physician extenders order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in your organization then you may have considered in the past.

4. Focus on the physician experience.

How hard is it for a physician or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization. Have you looked at the hassle factor that physicians encounter when they try to get things done in your care setting? Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter you. Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

5. Focus on the consumer/patient experience.

A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their spending and loyalty to the brand. You need to actively manage the customer experience in total by understanding the customer's point of view. That is, all touch points internally and externally that a customer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

6. Embrace retail healthcare.

It's not going away as some may still think. There is a reason why Walgreens just purchased a health plan with millions of potential customers coming online for insurance and medical care in 2014. Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases. Price convenience, access are the drivers in retail healthcare. Find the need, understand the consumers behavior drivers, design offering around the consumer not you in a convenient location and price it appropriately. End of story. If you can't compete in this way, your market position, share and revenue will erode.

Six steps. Not so easy, or not so hard. Just takes courage and leadership.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Will price competition change healthcare marketing?

The game is changing. Rapidly.

Game changer. That's what I call Aetna's introduction to its members, of its easy-to-use, out-of-pocket payment estimator. Simple really, know the cost of a test, visit or procedure; know what it will cost you. But it doesn't stop there, it allows the healthcare consumer to compare the cost across multiple network providers. You can compare costs across 10 different hospitals and doctors.

WellPoint through its AIM subsidiary has shown where it was possible to incentivize physicians and plan members, to shop for radiology services and choose the lowest cost provider. It's reducing healthcare costs; while maintaining quality.

United HealthCare, though its Innovation Center , is empowering its clients and 70 million members across a broad array of data driven products and services, for the healthcare consumer to better understand their healthcare utilization, and make cost effective choices.

And these are just a couple of the price and cost decision-making information tools that the healthcare consumer is starting to receive. Nothing like having higher out-of-pocket expenses, coupled with the ability to obtain pricing information, combined with the ability to estimate your own costs to get healthcare consumers to pay attention. Shopping for care and it's not mystery shopping..

Member co-pays and deductibles are rising. Employers moving to defined contributions. Millions of individuals potentially coming online with health insurance in 2014. Healthcare consumers are facing the economic reality that they now have some "skin-in-the-game". Can you really think of any better way to control healthcare costs by introducing a level of price competition and providing information which really up until now, was essentiality unattainable?

Forget the quality argument.

Just because you charge more doesn't mean you have higher quality. The healthcare consumer already assumes quality. And they assume that it is equal across multiple providers. Saying you have high quality when you are unable to differentiate yourself in the market, because you won't use outcomes data, is a claim that falls on deaf ears. It's a given. It's the business you are in.

So now , pricing begins to rear its head in the healthcare consumer's decision-making process. And when all other things are equal, in the mind of the consumers, price wins. Quality is assumed. Caring is assumed. It's what you do.

Your marketing needs to change.

Most healthcare organizations aka hospitals, have never really had to deal with the pricing equation on a competitive basis. For insurance, medical device, pharma and other suppliers to healthcare, price competition has been a requirement in their markets since the beginning of time.

Now, doctors, hospitals, and others will need to change their marketing operations and begin to deal on price. Your brand takes on new meaning when price and choice become a critical component in the healthcare consumer decision-making process. High price, undifferentiated quality, won't sell.

Competing on price vs. claims of quality requires a different set of marketing skills than what you have traditionally found in most healthcare marketing operations. It requires more than a communications skill set, or senior leadership thinking that they know how to market.

Change is never easy, especially old attitudes towards the value of, and need for, healthcare marketing.

Repeat after me: Brand, Value, Price.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is marketing healthcare Centers of Excellence valuable in shared-risk or value-based payment system?


Just about everyone has some kind of healthcare Center of Excellence and these programs are continually marketed by healthcare organizations. But does that marketing change in shared-risk or value-based payment environment? And if it does, then how do you market a Center of Excellence?

I believe that yes, the new healthcare payment models change the marketing and value of Centers of Excellence. And that is good at many different levels. In a shared-risk or value based payment environment, you will need qualitative and objective proof. That proof can come in many different forms, be it via outcomes, technology, accreditation, price, satisfaction etc.

Sure you can still say you have a Center of Excellence in an effort to obtain new payment agreements. But if that effort is not supported by pricing and outcomes transparency, then how do you prove to the newly minted healthcare insurance card carrying consumer in 2014, that yours is better than the one down the street?

The point here is that proud pronouncements on Centers of Excellence without transparency will become a thing of the past.

Marketing of a Center of Excellence in a value-based or risk-sharing environment takes on a very real purchaser focused approach. You will need to prove to all purchasers, be it government, insurance, consumer etc, of the value of your Center of Excellence along at least three dimensions, quality, outcomes and price.

So to market successfully you need to:

Define your value proposition and each value prop will be different based on the market segment.


Identify potential accrediting bodies for your Center of Excellence and achieve same.


Or, in the absence of accrediting bodies, do the research and set meaningful outcomes as benchmarks.


Decide what your marketing position is going to be. If it’s not superior, then what are you doing this? I mean really, who wants to go to a Center of Excellence that is perceived as market equivalent or inferior to your competitors?


Develop an outcome reporting mechanism tailored to your market segments.


Be price transparent as individuals are already shopping on price as it relates to out-of-pocket co-pays.


Communicate in terms people understand not about we do this, but in the value of the Center of Excellence to them, and how it meets their needs.


Develop and execute integrated marketing plans that are connected to the business and financial plan of the Center of Excellence covering traditional, social, and media.


Remain consistent with your brand architecture for the healthcare organization.


Use employer, insurance, physician and patient testimonials.


Constantly evaluate your marketing efforts, change when needed and do what I call fail fast.


Prove Return on Marketing Investment.

Marketing of Centers of Excellence in a shared-risk or value-based payment environment will be needed. But it will go beyond the current messaging so many utilizing that assumes build it and they will come. Now, build it incorrectly with same old marketing and they will not come.

I will be on vacation now till August 7, so, have a great week and thanks for reading.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.